Businessman Vivek Ramaswamy’s GOP rivals scrutinized him during the debate Wednesday for joining TikTok and profiting from Chinese business deals.
Former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley and Mr. Ramaswamy faced off over his joining the Chinese-owned social media app TikTok.
Mr. Ramaswamy, who has amassed over 33,000 followers since joining the platform, said the GOP needs to reach out to the younger generation better, and one way to do that is through social media apps that younger people use.
“Part of how we win elections is reaching the next generation of young Americans where they are,” he said. “So when I get into office, I’ve been very clear. Kids under the age of 16 should not be using addictive social media.”
TikTok faces bans around the U.S. and other countries as intelligence officials warn that it poses a security threat. The app has been banned on federal government devices and in over two dozen states.
“We’re only going to ever get to declaring independence from China, which I favor if we actually win,” Mr. Ramaswamy said. “While the Democrats are running rampant reaching the next generation three to one, there’s exactly one person in the Republican Party, which talks a big game about reaching young people. And that’s me.”
As the youngest contender and freshest face in the race, he admitted that he may come off as a little ambitious and a “know-it-all all.” But he said he is willing to listen to others.
“That’s how I built my companies. I want to be challenged. I want people who disagree with me. That’s what makes America great because we’re not a perfect nation,” he said.
Mrs. Haley shot back: “This is infuriating because TikTok is one of the most dangerous social media assets that we can have. And, honestly, every time I hear you, I feel a little bit dumber for what you say.”
“Here you’ve got a TikTok situation. What they’re doing — 150 million people are on TikTok. That means they can get your contacts. They can get your financial information. They can get your emails, they can get your text messages,” she said.
“You now want kids to go on social media that’s dangerous for all of us. You went and you’re in business with the Chinese that gave Hunter Biden $5 million, we can’t trust you,” said Mrs. Haley, referencing Mr. Ramaswamy‘s prior business with the Chinese.
Mr. Ramaswamy also took a hit over his foreign business deals in China from Sen. Tim Scott who noted how the entrepreneur previously said his opponents were “good people” after saying they were “bought and paid for” at the last GOP debate last month in Milwaukee.
“I thought about that for a little while and said, ‘You know I can’t imagine how you could say that knowing that you were just in business with the Chinese Communist Party and the same people that funded Hunter Biden millions of dollars were partners of yours as well,’” Mr. Scott said.